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Buying Charter would be a big change in direction for Verizon

Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell C. McAdam
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Verizon chairman and CEO Lowell C. McAdam

A report from the Wall Street Journal Thursday morning saying that Verizon was considering buying Charter Communications sent the latter company's shares up 9 percent in early trading, valuing the company at more than $84 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

And even though subsequent reporting from CNBC's David Faber poured some cold water on that rumor, there are still good reasons why Verizon would want to buy Charter, say analysts.

Pursuing a big cable acquisition is a switch from Verizon's previous moves to buy media companies like AOL and Yahoo (which is still pending) in order to acquire content.

"Verizon's wireless business needs to dramatically densify their wireless networks for the next generation of wireless," said Craig Moffett, MoffettNathanson senior research analyst. "Densification is an engineering phrase for saying they need an awful amount of wires."

The move would also go against its rival AT&T's strategy to acquire Time Warner to increase its media holdings, and suggests Verizon now thinks infrastructure is more important than content, Moffett said.

"Verizon's interest in wires is diametrically opposite from AT&T's interest in content," said Moffett. "It's unlikely both of them are right."

Charter may not be the only company under consideration: The New York Post said earlier in the month that the telecommunications company was considering purchasing either Charter or Comcast.

But although Charter and Comcast are roughly the same size, Charter would be a much easier buy, Moffett said. For one thing, Comcast is mostly concentrated on the east coast of the U.S. where Verizon's Fios internet and TV service already has a presence. Also, because Comcast has a large media business in NBCUniversal, Verizon might face regulators concerned about antitrust, Moffett added.

JP Morgan analyst Philip Cusick agreed Charter was more likely than Comcast.

"Comcast's overall size and NBC ownership make a deal with Verizon a nonstarter as the regulatory review process would likely be quite difficult," Cusick wrote a note to investors.

Still, purchasing Charter, which is worth almost $84 billion according to Thomson Reuters, would come with challenges.

"You'd have to say it's an unlikely a deal would make it to the finish line," Moffett said. "It's very hard for Verizon's balance sheet to expand far enough to pull something off of this size."

Verizon declined to comment. Charter did not respond to request for comment.

Note: Comcast owns CNBC's parent company NBCUniversal.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect later a later report that no significant talks are taking place between the two companies.